Why Anwar Ibrahim delaying Selangor Poll

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Anwar Ibrahim has certainly lost his political nerve. After publicly pondering his life outside politics after GE 13 in the wake of a likely Pakatan loss, he now says PKR is also looking beyond the federal election to defend its sole electoral asset – Selangor.

He told the media Wednesday that the state will not hold its state election at the same time as GE 13, citing the old story of electoral rolls as an excuse. Instead, the PKR-led administration will set a later date despite the fact that a separate poll will cost an extra RM30 million.

Anwar’s latest manoeuvre simply doesn’t wash. He and Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had first used that excuse back in April, despite the biggest ever reform of Malaysia’s voting practices taking place in the past year.

More tellingly, Anwar’s reason for delaying the poll had by then already been contradicted by a member of his own party. PKR Secretary General Datuk Saifuddin Nasution revealed in March that the real reason is that the party feels it will do better with a delayed poll because voters will feel sorry for the party after its likely defeat in GE 13.

Saifuddin said “there have been some advantages to delaying state polls, after national polls – in 1959 it proved beneficial to PAS when it took over Kelantan and Terengganu.”

The Pakatan-friendly Malaysian Insider confirmed at the time that “state PKR leaders feel a delay would allow PR to retain Selangor through sympathy votes if the coalition fails to take federal power.”

So Anwar’s lack of confidence with the voters is now driving this negative strategy which sends the worst possible message to voters ahead of GE 13. “I know we can’t win” is the subtext of Anwar’s latest action, “so we’ll hang on to what we’ve got”.

It’s hardly going to inspire confidence in Pakatan supporters.

And it’s also unlikely to fool Selangor voters who can see how the PKR civil war in that state has undermined Khalid’s leadership and that of his entire administration. They also know that the RM1 billion Talam scandal exposes the inept workings of the state government at its very worst.

And they know the looming water shortages – set to hit the state under the next administration if not for federal intervention – are a reminder that Selangor faces huge problems that won’t be solved by re-electing the same old crowd.

But we’re not just talking about Selangor. Anwar hinted that his sneaky strategy of cashing in on voter sympathy might be replicated in the other states.

He admitted Penang hasn’t yet decided when it will go to the people, but given the unpopularity of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng with Indian and Malay voters the best time could also be as late as possible.

And PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali, who was also present at Anwar’s media briefing, said that the Kedah government has not decided when it will hold the state election.

It seems that everyone at Pakatan Rakyat is trying to keep their options open. They know their lack of policies and vision for Malaysia is plain for everyone to see, and voters don’t like what they see.

As a result, all the Pakatan parties want to do it to hang on to what they have got. They may all be out of a job this time next year. – The Choice